54th District State Senator Steve McClure of Springfield says the shortage of volunteer firefighters in the state is creating a crisis.
According to several state lawmakers, coverage is getting sparse, especially in rural areas because 85% of the state is covered by a volunteer fire department.
McClure says that a recent bill will help alleviate some of the costs of being a volunteer firefighter: “Our volunteer firefighters are essential, in particular for rural areas. They are so badly needed when we have awful, horrific tragedies and emergencies just like what happened on I-55 just a short time ago. This bill will at least give volunteer firefighters a $500 tax credit every year. I think it’s the least we can do because many of these folks are buying their own equipment and taking a lot of time and efforts [for training], which costs them financially. The least we can do is say ‘thank you’ with a tax credit.”
McClure says the multi-fatality crash on I-55 in his district illustrates the need for more volunteer firefighters, as the volunteers cover most of the state’s interstate system.
McClure says that a measure like this has come up several times, but now appears to have bipartisan support, especially with fellow Springfield State Senator Doris Turner jumping to the measure’s support. State Senator Jil Tracy is also on the measure as a co-sponsor. McClure says there appears to be a lot of momentum behind this current introduction of the bill. He says he’s confident that something will get done by the end of the session next week.
The content of the language for the tax credit is currently in SB2253. The bill is currently in the Assignments committee.